Wine: 'Wall Street' Likes Kinnick, He Likes Our Quarterbacks

Oct. 29, 2006

With two of Iowa’s three remaining football games to be played at Kinnick Stadium, it’s comforting to know the Hawkeyes have the greatest home field advantage in major college football.

Who says so? That noted football publication, The Wall Street Journal.

Yes, The Wall Street Journal, which daily briefs us on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, now tells us about something it calls Home Turf Differential. And according to the Journal’s calculations, visiting teams find the turf at Kinnick tougher than the turf in any in other stadium.

Home Turf Differential – let’s call it HTD – is easily calculated. Take a team’s winning percentage at home and subtract from that the team’s winning percentage on the road and you have the HTD.

The Hawkeyes have the highest HTD in major college football over five seasons that include 2001-05, according to the Journal. In an article that appeared Oct. 27 and included a panoramic picture of Kinnick Stadium, the paper said:

“Kinnick Stadium at the University of Iowa is college football’s biggest hurdle for visitors. Between 2001 and 2005, the Hawkeyes had a 29-3 record there (.906), one of the country’s top marks. However, the road record for Kirk Ferentz’s squad over that time was just 13-12 (.520), resulting in a HTD of .386.”

The Journal points out that HTD does not reward “a uniformly excellent record,” or one that is almost as good on the road as it is at home. Hence USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Louisville did not make the Journal’s “HTD Elite” listed below.

Iowa Hawkeyes
Home: 29-3 (.906)
Away: 13-12 (.520)
HTD: .386

Texas Tech Red Raiders
Home: 25-5 (.833)
Away: 13-15 (.464)
HTD: .369

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Home: 28-7 (.800)
Away: 10-13 (.435)
HTD: .365

THREE QB’s, ALL WINNERS

Let’s see, the last time Iowa had three quarterbacks start and win games in one season was … well … uh … maybe never. At least I can’t think of one. Can you?

With Drew Tate out with a left thumb recovering from surgery, Coach Kirk Ferentz decided to start quarterback No. 3 against Northern Illinois on Saturday. Tate has piloted the Hawkeyes to four victories this season. When he missed the game at Syracuse due to injury, senior Jason Manson quarterbacked Iowa to a double overtime triumph.

Saturday Ferentz gave the nod to Jake Christensen, a second-year freshman who is considered to be Tate’s heir apparent. Christensen did not disappoint. In fact, other than throwing with his left hand and not his right, he looks a great deal like Tate. Both have a competitive, commanding presence.

Christensen’s first pass went through a receiver’s hands and was intercepted, but that didn’t faze him. The Hawkeyes quickly got the ball back and he took them on an impressive 10-play, 77-yard drive for a touchdown.

When Iowa got another possession 93 yards from the goal line, Christensen engineered a drive that resulted in a field goal and a 10-0 lead. He completed seven of eight passes after getting intercepted on his first of the game.

Just before halftime Marcus Pascal picked off a Northern Illinois aerial at the visitor’s 31-yard line. From there Christensen completed four passes, three to another freshman, Dominique Douglas, who scored a touchdown on the last catch.

In the second half, when NIU scored twice to make the margin 17-14, Christensen performed like a veteran. He completed passes of 35 yards to Andy Brodell and 24 yards to Scott Chandler that highlighted an 80-yard drive, severely tested by a 10-yard holding penalty and a nine-yard sack.

The payoff came at the NIU 10-yard line, when on fourth and four, Ferentz put the ball in the hands of his freshman quarterback rather than on the foot of his senior field goal kicker. Christensen obliged by threading a TD pass to Chandler. Game over.

One win does not make a season, nor does it make a quarterback. But Christensen’s performance Saturday (19 of 30 for 256 yards and two TDs) gives us reason to be optimistic about the future.

Drew Tate may be back under center this Saturday against Northwestern. If not, I like our chances with the rookie.